The 35 Most Memorable Hollywood Bodies
Last Updated: Feb 01, 2012
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Movie stars may be blessed at birth with good looks, but when it comes to building bodies that will make a lasting impression, they have to put in the work -- just like the rest of us. We asked the LIVESTRONG.COM community and professional celebrity trainers Ashley Borden, Ramona Braganza, Joe Dowdell and Valerie Waters to tell us which actors took on the toughest workouts to mold on-screen physiques that were truly unforgettable. Here are their top 35.
SCARLETT JOHANSSON IN “AVENGERS”
Playing the action heroine Black Widow meant Johansson had to strike the perfect balance of toned and tough. Not only was she wearing a skin-tight leather costume that showcased all of her curve, but she had to look the part of superhero. She trained in hand-to-hand combat with her stunt double and worked out with her trainer Bobby Strom for 90 minutes every day in the six weeks leading up to filming. The workouts were a combination of treadmill and bodyweight-exercise circuits to help her make the most of her time.
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HUGH JACKMAN IN “X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE”
Jackman was the only unanimous choice from our panel, and it’s easy to see why. A barrel chest, bulging shoulders and biceps that look they swallowed cantaloupes -- Hugh looked huge as Wolverine. According to Men’s Fitness, Jackman’s trainer, Mike Ryan, used a combination of compound lifts (squats, deadlifts and presses) and cardio to help the actor pack on lean, ripped muscle. “He didn’t put on a lot of mass for the role, but the size he added was pure quality,” Peak Performance CEO Joe Dowdell says.
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ZOE SALDANA IN “AVATAR”
Though much of the movie relied on CGI, Saldana still had to be in tip-top shape for the film. According to Shape magazine, the former dancer worked out six days a week using a combination of archery, horseback riding, and Wushu, the first known form of martial arts. And according to Women's Health magazine, she swears by tons of vegetables and lentils to curb her cravings of unhealthy foods, along with plenty of water, of course. Though Saldana does have a naturally thin frame, she proved her knockout body was no fluke in other movies like “Star Trek” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
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GERARD BUTLER IN “300”
300 wasn’t a movie; it was a 117-minute highlight reel for Gerard Butler’s abs. But here’s a fun fact: Seemingly the day after the film wrapped, Butler traded chin-ups for cheeseburgers and cigarettes, and he was 15 pounds overweight before he’d even finished all the promotional interviews for the film. “I had six weeks to get Butler back in shape for a Men’s Health cover shoot that coincided with the movie’s release,” Peak Performance CEO Joe Dowdell says. “We trained six days a week, with three of those days dedicated to total-body strength, and on the other three, we’d do boxing, prowler pushing or medicine-ball work.”
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JENNIFER GARNER IN “ELEKTRA”
Garner already had a fighter’s look from her role as secret agent Sydney Bristow on TV series Alias, but she really hit the gym hard to play lethal ninja-ette Elektra Natchios. She worked with Valerie Waters, creator of the Red Carpet Ready program. They trained six days a week, performing a mix of strength circuits and running intervals. “I consider Jen’s lean, limber look in this movie my finest work,” Waters says. “She was also doing martial arts and stunt training, so we couldn’t go too heavy on the weights. We did a lot of mixed circuits with bodyweight exercises, free weights and core work.”
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CHRISTIAN BALE IN “BATMAN BEGINS”
Christian Bale was incredibly convincing as Bruce Wayne, the plain-clothes alter-ego of Batman. But what Bale can do better than act is gain and lose massive amounts of muscle. Wanna blow your mind? Watch this "American Psycho" (where he’s huge), “The Machinist” (where he looks like he’s on a concentration camp diet), “Batman Begins” (back to huge) and “The Fighter” (gaunt and crack-addled) in a row. In “Batman Begins,” those chiseled abs speak to Bateman’s superhero status. “He embodies a control freak to a ‘T’ with his zero-percent body fat,” says Ashley Borden, creator of the S.O.S. Diet Plan.
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LINDA HAMILTON IN “TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY”
In the first Terminator movie, Sarah Connor was a big-haired scaredy cat running for her life from the future governor of California. By the time Terminator 2 rolled around, she’d ditched the perm for a pulled-back ponytail, looked like she’d done about 300 push-ups a day and wasn't taking orders from anyone. “Linda Hamilton was the ultimate bad*ss in Terminator 2,” personal trainer Ashley Borden says. “She made vascular biceps chic. Never before did shoulder definition and a plain black tank top look so hot.” No wonder the Governator switched sides in this sequel.
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THE CAST OF “MAGIC MIKE”
When it comes to the chiseled physiques of this so-bad-it's-good movie, how could we be expected to just pick one favorite? From Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello to Adam Rodriguez and Matt Bomer, even Matthew McConaughey, these stars all rely on their own secret weapon to prep them for all those shirtless scenes. While Tatum worked out heavily with trainer Arin Babaian to sculpt his six-pack abs, he touted his diet as the number one reason his abs were as visible as they were. And though Manganiello might seem like he was born with that perfectly sculpted body, he trained with Ron Matthews using low-intensity cardio and high-intensity upper-body weight training.
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DEMI MOORE IN “G.I. JANE”
Perhaps the only thing more shocking than Demi Moore’s buzzcut in “G.I. Jane” was her ability to rifle off one-arm push-ups. The movie did an amazing job of making the grueling physical tests Navy Seals undergo look especially brutal, but as Lt. Jordan O’Neil, Moore looked tough enough to handle it all. “Throughout the movie, you see her perform those exercises with good form -- the pull-ups, hanging roll-ups, even those infamous one-arm push-ups,” personal trainer Ashley Borden says. “She’s sculpted, strong and beautiful.”
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BRUCE LEE IN “ENTER THE DRAGON”
Nearly 40 years after the premiere of “Enter the Dragon” in 1973, Bruce Lee remains the king of the strong, flexible, functional build. His martial arts skills are legendary, but he was also a workout maniac who used a variety of strength-training techniques to build his chiseled physique. By the time “Enter the Dragon” was filmed, he’d trimmed his waistline from size 30 to size 26 while adding inches to his arms and legs. “In the movie, Lee shows an unbelievable ability to contract just about every muscle in his body,” personal trainer Ashley Borden says. “He was just reaching his physical peak.” Unfortunately, he died before the movie’s release.
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NATALIE PORTMAN IN “BLACK SWAN”
To play the part of perfectionist ballerina Nina Sayers, Portman took her role seriously. Working with former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers, she trained for up to eight hours a day, six days a week. According to Shape magazine, in addition to lots of time spent on ballet, Bowers also incorporated swimming, cross-training and endurance exercises to help Portman build the strong, slim body of a ballet dancer.
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RYAN REYNOLDS IN “GREEN LANTERN”
Reynolds was already a hunky heartthrob, but to play cocky-test-pilot-turned-intergalactic-savior Hal Jordan, the actor needed to go from cut to shredded. “I’ve seen the effort Reynolds puts in at the gym firsthand,” personal trainer Ashley Borden says. “Bobby Strom (Reynolds’ trainer) used 90-minute workouts that always varied, working different body parts on different days.” Strom told WebMD that he cooked for Reynolds six days a week, preparing a diet heavy on ground turkey, grilled salmon and ground bison. The lean, muscular look that resulted seemed to work for Reynolds. “I love him, but I love him even more when he’s all ripped up, with those veins popping,” personal trainer Ramona Braganza says.
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HALLE BERRY IN “DIE ANOTHER DAY”
Holy cow, will anyone ever forget the first time they saw Halle Berry pop out of the water in that orange bikini? The entrance may have been inspired by Ursula Andress (the first Bond Girl), but Berry’s beachfront saunter created a legend of its own. “Halle’s sexiness lies in the balance of her frame,” personal trainer Ashley Borden says. “Her shoulder width is perfectly proportioned to the sweep of her quadriceps, emphasizing her muscular legs and small waist.” “Die Another Day” received mixed reviews and marked Pierce Brosnan’s last movie as James Bond, but Berry made Jinx Johnson the most memorable Bond girl of her generation.
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HENRY CAVILL IN “MAN OF STEEL”
To get in shape to play Superman in “Man of Steel,” British powerhouse Cavill relied on trainer Mark Twight. Between intense two-a-day workouts and 5,000 to 6,000 calories daily (with very limited carbs), Cavill put on an impressive 20 pounds in about six to eight weeks, according to Muscle and Fitness. During his training with Twight, he hit a personal best of a 435-pound deadlift, a 245-pound push press and a 365-pound back squat. “By doing physically difficult things, by changing his body of his own will, Henry changed his attitude and his bearing,” Twight told Muscles and Fitness. “He looked huge. He walked huge. His attitude broadcast his physical capability.”
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KATE BOSWORTH IN “BLUE CRUSH”
To play the part of Anne Marie Chadwick, Bosworth had to be fit -- but not too fit. The lightweight actress, who told Shape magazine she’s an avid runner, reportedly put on 15 pounds of muscle to handle the role, but did it without looking too ripped to be a beach-bumming surfer. As a result, “Kate exudes the look of an effortless surfer’s body,” personal trainer Ashley Borden says. “She radiates strength and comfort in her bikini, and her confidence gives her a natural sexiness and appeal.”
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EDWARD NORTON IN “AMERICAN HISTORY X”
The lineup of characters Edward Norton has played in movies goes something like this: Creepy skinny guy (“Primal Fear”), smart skinny guy (“People vs. Larry Flynt,”), skinny gambler guy (“Rounders”), gigantic raging neo-nazi (“American History X”). His transformation from talented lightweight to terrifying-yet-impressively-chiseled hatemonger was as sudden as it was unexpected. Norton told the Calgary Sun he’d put on 30 pounds of muscle in just three months. “Not only did he get lots of press for his transformation,” personal trainer Joe Dowdell says, “but he also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.”
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ANGELINA JOLIE IN “TOMB RAIDER”
“I love Angelina’s look in Tomb Raider,” celebrity trainer Valerie Waters says. “She’s one part toned athlete, one part gymnast and three parts swagger.” Jolie played Lara Croft, a video game heroine who braves dangerous dungeons in search of ancient treasures and reportedly performed her own stunts for the film. She prepared with months of boxing and other fight training. “You don’t pull off a look that tough by just doing Pilates,” Waters says.
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BRAD PITT IN “FIGHT CLUB”
Though Pitt has always been a Hollywood heartthrob, it took his role as Tyler Durden in “Fight Club” for us all to sit up and take notice—of his abs, in particular. Even 16 years after the movie came out, personal trainers are still hearing their male clients ask them to “make them look like Brad Pitt in 'Fight Club.'” Because of his physiology, Pitt paired a low-rep, high-intensity weightlifting regimen with a high-protein diet to build muscle, burn fat and showcase his incredible core.
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MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ IN “THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS” FRANCHISE
On her own website, Michelle describes herself as “a cross between beauty and brawn,” which probably made her perfect to play Letty, the Bonnie to Vin Diesel's Clyde in this film series. With her intense attitude and athletic build, Rodriguez embodied the part. “Michelle has a strong physique that says ‘not only is my body tight, but I can also kick your *ss,’” personal trainer Ashley Borden says.
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MARK WAHLBERG IN “THE FIGHTER”
“The guy trained for that role for four years!” Ashley Borden says, describing how Wahlberg prepared to play boxer “Irish” Micky Ward. “He honed in his nutrition and dropped 30 pounds from his frame to build a fighter’s body. His serratus anteriors (muscles along the side of the chest) are beautiful.” Wahlberg reportedly built a boxing ring in order to train for the part. He told the San Antonio Express-Times, “I didn’t want to look like an actor who could box a bit. I wanted to look like a boxer who could win the world welterweight title.” Mission accomplished.
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UMA THURMAN IN “KILL BILL”
Perhaps Uma Thurman is most recognizable for her role in “Pulp Fiction,” but her iconic yellow jumpsuit that hugs her cut body in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” films is one of her greatest looks. How does she get those toned arms and strong core? She says that even though she has a hectic schedule, she always works out when she has free time. To get ready for her martial arts fight scenes in “Kill Bill,” Thurman worked out six days a week. She told Fitness Magazine that she even traveled to China to worked with a trainer to perfect her fighting moves. Now that’s dedication.
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RYAN GOSLING IN “CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.”
Ryan Gosling went from sweet Hollywood heartthrob to hot Hollywood hunk when he bared his buff chest and abs in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” His six-pack abs were jaw-droppingly hot in the infamous love scene with Emma Stone. But when asked how he got those killer abs, he joked in many interviews that they were Photoshopped, according to E! Online. And let’s not forget the Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” meme craze, which might just never go away.
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MEGAN FOX IN “TRANSFORMERS”
Megan Fox landed a role of a lifetime when she starred in “Transformers.” Although already young and hot, Fox still had to work hard for her blockbuster body. She combined interval training with low-intensity cardio and focused on her abs and core. So how’d she get those fabulous legs? Fox perfected hanging leg raises and lying leg raises to get toned thighs. She also took a liking to circuit work, focusing on bodyweight exercise and low-impact cardio.
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TAYLOR LAUTNER IN THE “TWILIGHT” SERIES
Say what you will about the quality of the movie itself, but Taylor Lautner's abs in the series might just have made the second and third movies worth watching. Between the first and second movies, Lautner's trainer, Jordan Yuam, helped him put on 30 pounds of muscle in a year, according to Men's Health magazine. He did this by increasing the amount of weight Lautner was lifting by 40 percent and having him so slower on the eccentric phase of every exercise. That, combined with ab exercises like Swiss ball pikes and reverse crunches, made him the fantasy of every #TeamJacob member.
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BO DEREK IN “10”
It’s hard to imagine a world without Bo Derek running on the beach in that famous gold bathing suit and a head full of long braids in “10.” Her stunning body and major sex appeal is unforgettable. Derek has been known to keep her killer body toned and lean, even 30 years after her famous debut. So how does she age so well? Derek is a vegetarian who loves the outdoors. She told Oprah that she hates routine workouts and instead opts for horseback riding and the labor of tending to her ranch in Santa Ynez, CA.
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BRADLEY COOPER IN “AMERICAN SNIPER”
Cooper had 10 weeks to bulk up to play Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. And Jason Walsh was just the trainer to help him do that. Walsh relied on his experience training football players for the NFL combine to help Cooper pack on 40 pounds of muscle for the role. According to Men's Health magazine, Cooper consumed more than 5,000 calories a day between five meals and several protein shakes throughout the day. “I had to get to the point where I believed I was him,” Cooper told Men's Health. “At 185 pounds, it would’ve been a joke. His size was such a part of who he was.”
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CAMERON DIAZ IN “CHARLIE'S ANGELS”
Regardless of the movie, Diaz has always been known for her knock-out body. But it's the first “Charlie's Angels” remake that she credits for teaching her the importance of being healthy and fit. “We trained eight hours a day, seven days a week for three months, and I was dying” she told Self magazine. “I wondered, 'How am I ever going to do this?' But soon enough, I had a six-pack. At 27, I wasn't consciously saying, 'I'm doing this for when I'm 41'. But at 41, I'm saying, 'Thank God I started at 27.'” Diaz gave up smoking a month before filming began and did a lot of martial arts training to prep for the role.
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CHRIS EVANS IN “CAPTAIN AMERICA”
To look like a superhero, Evans had to train like a superhero. But he couldn't just be ripped. He also need to be fast an agile. “The preparation for Captain America was really about me bulking up looks wise, so it was a lot of weight training so I could get big” he told BodyBuilding .com. “The training regimen was based on heavyweight/low-rep sets of the classic compound lifts. I did stuff like squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, incline bench presses, weighted dips, and chin-ups.”
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JESSICA SIMPSON IN “THE DUKES OF HAZARD”
Jessica Simpson is no stranger to body controversy, but despite her ups and downs, she’ll forever be recognized as Daisy Duke, from “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Remember those tiny Daisy Dukes with her perfectly toned legs? Simpson is still in shape now, as a mother of two, and focuses on working out regularly with her trainer Harley Pasternak. He says that Simpson works on different muscle groups by lifting weights, and she enjoys cardio and circuit training. She works out about four days a week for 45 minutes.
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WILL SMITH IN “ALI”
In order to play boxing legend Muhammed Ali, it's no surprise that Smith incorporated a lot of boxing into his workout regimen. By workout five days a week for an incredible six hours per day, which also included a lot of running, he put on 35 pounds and increased his bench press from 175 pounds to 365 pounds. His trainer Darrell Foster was a former middleweight boxer and longtime trainer of former champion Sugar Ray Leonard. According to Time magazine, Smith's training began with a bootcamp: “a three-mile run every morning, boxing practice for a couple of hours, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate lunch, then watching fight films together before going off to the weight room.”
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JENNIFER LAWRENCE IN “HUNGER GAMES”
Lawrence's character in the “Hunger Games” series, Katniss Everdeen, doesn't just act tough, she is tough. So in preparation for the role, she worked with Dr. Joe Horrigan, a chiropractic sports medicine doctor and celebrity trainer. Accodring to Teen Vogue, her workout routine consisted of sprints, stationary bike rides, archery lessons and rock and tree climbing with the stunt crew. But her regimen also included an active recovery day, where Dr. Horrigan encouraged her to do more low-intensity cardio workouts or yoga.
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SYLVESTER STALLONE IN “RAMBO”
Throughout his career, Stallone is known for playing the tough guy. And not just the tough guy, but the super-jacked, kick-your-a** guy. For both “Rocky II” and “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” he trained with former Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu. The two worked out together, and Stallone competed to keep up with his bodybuilding coach.
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NICOLE KIDMAN IN “MOULIN ROUGE”
For her role in “Moulin Rouge,” the already svelte Kidman got down to an 18-inch waist—the same size as Viven Leigh in “Gone With the Wind.” Kidman spent hours dancing and learning the choreography for the movie, even injuring her ankle at one point. “I hurt myself dancing in heels at three in the morning, and I fell downstairs,” she told News Corp Australia. “I then re-broke my rib getting into a corset.” Talk about dedication to the role!
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CHRIS HEMSWORTH IN “THOR”
To play the mythic Norse god, Hemsworth teamed up with trainer and former Navy SEAL Duffy Gaver to gain 20 pounds of muscle. According to Muscle and Fitness, Gaver took an old-school bodybuilding approach to Hemsworth's workout and gave particular attention to arms and shoulders. “People see Chris and they think he was on steroids, but he didn’t touch a single substance,” Gaver told Muscle and Fitness. “It was just red meat, heavy weights and some protein powder. He crushed every single workout. He simply decided to look like Thor.”
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JENNIFER ANISTON IN “THE BREAKUP”
Let's face it: Aniston has always looked good. Since her days on Friends, when her Rachel haircut became the hairstyle to copy for women everywhere, women have aspired to look like her. And her flawless figure in “The Break-Up” is no exception, especially in the nude scene. Aniston has always been a devoted gym-goer, touting the benefits of regular cardio and yoga, so her prep for the infamous scene included plenty of sweat sessions leading up to filming.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Did your favorite star make our list? Are there other memorable bodies we missed? Were there any surprises on the list? Which stars made the biggest impression on you? Do any of them inspire you to work out more? Did you get any workout ideas from any of these celebs? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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